America's worst nemesis is its lack of integrity vis-a-vis the rest of the world. Unfortunately, Obama's recent determination
Obama has made some good moves. Opening relations with Cuba is one of them. But in the things that really matter--that involve the restoration of America's integrity--he might as well be Dick Cheney.that the tortured interpretations and implementations of Bush era torture will not be investigated dilutes our integrity even further. The rest of the world was expecting a lot to change when Obama took office. They're starting to see that not much has.
Meanwhile, DemocracyNow reported over the weekend that torture at Guantanamo has actually become worse since Obama took office (Skip to 2:15 in the video segment).
What's the Real Danger to America? Michael Hayden, former CIA director, and Michael Mukasey, former attorney general, wrote in the Wall Street journal that Obama's release of four "torture memos" written in 2002 and 2005 has made made America less safe. Bullfeathers.
They said the release "assures that terrorists are now aware of the absolute limit of what the US government could do to extract information from them, and can supplement their training accordingly and thus diminish the effectiveness of these techniques"What made America less safe was not the release of the memos, but
This embarrassment to America may not be the equal of what George W. Bush committed, but Obama's decree is a gigantic embarrassment just the same. Let's hope that Congress doesn't regard him as a king, as they did the last guy.rather (1) continuing American imperialism on foreign soil, (2) continued American torture at Guantanamo, Bagram Air Base, and elsewhere, and (3) now a refusal to investigate previous torture. Hayden and Mukasey must surely understand where the real danger lies.
United Nations Expresses Outrage.The United Nations has declared illegal Obama's excemption of the CIA and Bush administration officials from investigation and potential prosecution.
The UN special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, says the US is bound under the UN Convention against Torture to prosecute those who engage in it.I don't happen to much appreciate the existence of the United Nations, but in this case I must admit that the UN is right.
"The United States, like all other states that are part of the UN convention against torture, is committed to conducting criminal investigations of torture and to bringing all persons against whom there is sound evidence to court," Mr Nowak told the Austrian daily Der Standard.
The World Expresses Outrage.The Scotsman writes
[Obama's] further decision to rule out any prosecution of the CIA operatives involved in applying the techniques has brought a flood of criticism from liberal commentators who fear the President, despite his own objections to the methods, has now become complicit in their application.The Belfast Telegraph states
If Mr Obama had hoped to draw a line under the shame of how the CIA treated terror suspects at secret overseas prisons, he has failed.Middle Eastern human rights organizations are equally shocked, citing the danger that will likely result from Obama's announcement.
The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights in Cairo said the decision would encourage other nations to let abuses pass.The United States Expresses (Some) Outrage. It's good that dismay is being expressed from at least some quarters of the United States. From the Scotsman article:
"Obama told us he will hold to account the people who committed a crime or a human rights violation," the group said. "So this is a wrong signal to the perpetrators of human rights, especially Third World countries."
David Cole, a professor at Georgetown University Law Centre, and the author of Justice At War: The Men and Ideas That Shaped America's 'War on Terror', said: "The four legal memos released by the Obama administration on Thursday confirm in excruciating detail that the Bush administration employed twisted and macabre legal reasoning to authorise the unspeakable – the torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of human beings.Mike Farrell wrote scathingly in The Huffington Post that Germans who "were just following orders" during World War II were put to death for far less heinous crimes.
"Obama's refusal to hold accountable those responsible for the wrongs so evident from the memos is unacceptable. A child would recognise these tactics as cruel and inhumane."
How we cheapen ourselves today. "Enhanced interrogation," "coercive techniques" and "harsh treatment" pretend torture is not torture. By what moral or ethical standard does a rational person determine that smashing a shackled human being's head into a wall is legal, let alone acceptable? It has been clear from before Nuremberg that the duty of the individual is to refuse to commit an illegal act, even if so ordered by one's commanding authority.Farrell continues:
Yet, "... nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past," says our president, missing the point entirely. As a constitutional scholar, he above all should understand that impunity for torturers gnaws at the wound of injustice and denies healing.This embarrassment to America may not be the equal of what George W. Bush committed, but Obama's decree is a gigantic embarrassment just the same. Let's hope that Congress doesn't regard him as a king, but rather actually does something to fix the problem Obama created.
Obama has made some good moves. Opening relations with Cuba is one of them. But in the things that really matter--that involve the restoration of America's integrity--he might as well be Dick Cheney. Giving a pass to the Bush administration on torture will haunt us for years to come.